Puppy Raising: an overview

The primary goal of Puppy Raising is to produce well-socialised, temperamentally and physically sound young dogs, suitable to be trained as Guide Dogs. If you’re reading this as a potential Puppy Raiser, the following should give you an overview of what’s required and expected from you as you start off on this amazing journey.


A black puppy sittin on the grass looking at the camera


We’ve all got to start somewhere…

The journey from pup to Guide Dog starts when we place eight week old puppies into the homes of accepted volunteer Puppy Raisers. Here they will remain until they are  approximately 12-18 months old. Puppy Raising is an extremely rewarding role, as you are responsible for preparing the pups for their future training.

When the puppy leaves its mother and litter-mates and is placed into a Puppy Raising home, it is leaving its natural family to become integrated into its new human family. The puppy won’t consider you,  the Puppy Raisers, as a “human” family though, as they think of us as being more like other dogs.

This is an important point because, following the instinct of canine social order, the puppy will view the human family as its “pack”. The primary Puppy Raiser will take over the role of the puppy’s new “pack leader”. The leadership the puppy receives in its new home will shape its future emotional development and temperamental suitability for Guide Dog training.

Early experiences

The early experiences of the pup, through its interactions with men, women and children, and other pets, will shape its temperament and social behaviour.

The puppy will need to be house-trained and taught well-mannered behaviour within the home. It will need to be taught to walk correctly on the leash, and be discouraged from pulling and sniffing.

It is essential that the puppy is taken out at least six days of each week to ensure well-rounded socialisation. This means lots of visits to the supermarket, coffee dates, school pick ups and more! Guide Dogs pups, just like their working counterparts, can go anywhere!

Progressively, the areas in which the young dog is walked will extend. Puppy Raisers will start off walking their pup down-the-street, then eventually around the block, down to the local shops to shopping centres, and into busier areas where the dog will become conditioned to the presence of people  and traffic. Pups need to be introduced to public transport too.

Sara, a golden Labrador puppy, is wearing her orange training coat and hopping into the front footwell of a car.

Early experiences are important for the pup.
















Making new friends

It’s important that the puppy should has plenty of opportunity to mix with friendly cats and dogs. It’s good for the pup to meet livestock if the opportunity presents itself too.

If there are no children in the home, it is important that the puppy is provided with opportunities to interact with children of all ages.

Puppies that have not had the opportunity to interact with children are sometimes afraid of their noise and quick movements, and may subsequently be assessed as unsuitable for training. It is essential that Puppy Raisers have a dog-proof fence. This prevents the puppy from wandering and also prevents other dogs from getting in. Swimming pools should be adequately fenced.

Support for Puppy Raisers

Our Puppy Raising supervisors provide ongoing support to all Puppy Development team members. The supervisor’s role is to provide professional puppy socialisation advice and ongoing support for Puppy Raisers throughout the raising experience.

Our staff are experts in the field of puppy behavious and personal interactions. They have helped hundreds of puppies ‘grow up’ over the years. As a result, you can be confident of receiving expert professional advice from the team, and the highest quality support in every situation. We also have a puppy mentor program in both regions, to provide peer-to-peer support for first-time Puppy Raisers. This includes insight and collaboration from current Puppy Raisers who are specially recruited and trained for this purpose. Mentors also organise social walks and coffee catch ups to support all volunteers on the team and provide a supportive environment.

Additionally, our large network of trained Puppy Development boarders can provide a temporary home for the pup in your care should you need to go on a short holiday or leave your home briefly for other reasons.

Support schedule

– Training prior to pup arrival

– Weekly visits for first few months

– Fortnightly sessions as pup grows older

– Additional monthly group training sessions


a group of people are lined up on a footpath with Guide Dogs pups


Does Puppy Raising sound like a journey you’d like to take?

First, make sure you’ve had a look at the Initial Criteria for Puppy Raising.
Then, if you think you’re suitable, download, complete and send back our Puppy Raising Application Form. We look forward to hearing from you!


Return to the Puppy Raising main page.